Going through the Coastal Commission (CC) process can be a daunting, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating task.
After going through this process for my new home, I recommend doing the following two things first:
- Check if your project falls under the Coastal Commission jurisdiction by calling your District Office and ask to speak with the planner on duty. Planners are there to help you and answer any questions. They have been wonderful every time I have called.
- If they confirm that you need a CC permit, ask if your location falls under a Certified Local Coastal Program. Under this program, you will fill out special city or county forms rather than the CC forms. Your application will be filed with the program rather than with the CC. My project was not under a program, so I had to file with the Coastal Commission; however, I believe that going through a local program may be a faster process.
Good things to know about the process:
The Coastal Commission meets only once a month, so turn in your application at least 30 days before their next meeting if you hope for them to review it at their next hearing. I was lucky – I turned in my application on June 25 and it was reviewed (and approved!!!) on August 12.
Meetings rotate between different district offices. Keep this in mind if you think you will need to, or want to, attend the hearing.
Drop off the application and documents in person! When you go to the office, ask for the planner on duty. Request that they check your application.
Bring your checkbook. I didn’t think of bring my checkbook because I had written a check for the application fee listed on the back of the application. Apparently the fees had changed, so I needed to write a new check. Thankfully, the planner was very understanding and she still took my application and asked me to mail a new check. I did this immediately!
Planners have 30 days minimum to review your application before sending it to the Commission. They will contact you if they have questions or if further documents are required. If you want the process to go smoothly, it is imperative to work with someone who knows the process and has gone through it (ie: me!).
Be prepared for an onsite evaluation and inspection. I knew this would happen, but I was not informed of when they would visit my project site.
Post the application notice! Part of the application includes a notice you have to post on your subject site. It has to be on yellow paper, and you have to tell me exactly when you will post it. Make sure it stays there. I placed mine in a plastic holder so it wouldn’t be damaged by the sun, wind, or rain.
Request a waiver. If you live in an already developed land, such as a manufactured home community, you might qualify for a waiver. This means that you won’t have to apply for the CC Development Permit, which costs thousands of dollars. When I applied, the waiver was $546.
Helpful contact links:
- For future hearing dates, click here
- As of right now, there are seven Coastal Commission district offices, so check for the closest to you when dropping off your application:
- Each District Office has their own application. The location that applies to you is based on your County (click on the list of district office link above, select the pin closest to you, and then look at the bottom of the pop-up for the contact information.)
- A list of all the applications.
Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful!